By Lethbridge Herald on November 10, 2018.
Alberta country star hits big and small venues alike
Brett Kissel loves his job and he’s proven it with a massive, two-part tour across Canada which comes to the Enmax Centre on Nov. 29.
From January to March, the born-and-bred Albertan staged 50 shows across the country and in response to fan demand, he hit the road again this fall, hitting venues in small towns and big cities alike.
The 28-year-old native of St. Paul, who now calls Nashville home with his wife and daughters, has been performing before he even reached his teen years and over the last few years has become a bonafide Canadian star, earning recognition in 2016 as Canadian Country Music Association male artist of the year.
This was just one of his many accolades earned since 2007 when he was given the rising star award by the Association of Country Music in Alberta.
Kissel’s plan with the current tour was to hit some communities that perhaps wouldn’t otherwise get to play host to a major music show.
“Why not do a tour of this size? Country music fans are everywhere,” said the friendly Kissel during a phone interview, citing social media as a powerful tool for connecting with audiences.
“People will send a message ‘why go to just Winnipeg?’ We had 28 sold-out shows in Ontario,” said Kissel, whose tour has him hitting communities such as Lac La Biche, Sedgewick, Drumheller and Bonnyville, along with venues in bigger cities such as Kamloops, Halifax and Lethbridge.
“Lethbridge is getting a lot more shows now but we thought why not go to other communities, as well,” said Kissel, who is hoping to sell out his Enmax Centre performance.
Purposely keeping ticket prices low so families can afford to attend, Kissel could very well fill every available seat at the Enmax since prices are a moderate $58 apiece.
Showtime with opener Dan Davidson, an Edmontonian known for his work with rock outfit Tupelo Honey, is 8 p.m. (See an upcoming edition for an interview with Davidson).
“I’m a small-town guy and I remember what it was like to go to the city to see a concert. And the infrastructure is there in small towns. It’s a big highlight for people,” added Kissel, who noted “people have really embraced us.”
“We’re breaking new ground in Canada and country music . . . I’m still building my career and the best way to build fans is to see them.”
That career essentially started when Kissel was given his first guitar at the age of seven. He released his first album when he was 12 and hit the charts with a splash in 2013 when he signed with Warner Brothers and released the single “Started With a Song,” an aptly-named tune for the future star.
In 2014, he earned a Juno award for breakthrough artist and later that year earned eight CCMA nominations.
Hockey fans will remember the Edmonton Oilers fan perhaps first for the 2012 tune “Hockey, Please Come Back” about the NHL lockout.
“I’ve been performing since I was 10 or 12 and was first paid when I was about 12 or 14,” recalled Kissel of his long career.
Being nominated for a CCMA while he was still in high school convinced Kissel music could be a real career, which was proven when he landed that first record deal.
Being from a smalltown background with roots in the cattle ranching industry, Kissel is the real deal and his fans know it.
But to Kissel what matters most is not where a person grew up, but creating a quality song.
“A great song is what matters the most, but I can relate to people in a small town better myself,” said Kissel, who last performed here in a show opened by Calgarian Lauren Mayell.
He has also played the Enmax stage opening for Brad Paisley and has performed at Average Joe’s.
After his tour ends on New Year’s Eve in Halifax, Kissel will be taking a break from the road after 300 shows this year.
He’ll head back to Nashville with his family where he plays the legendary Bluebird Cafe on Jan. 3 before hitting the stage at country music’s mecca, the Grand Ole Opry on Jan. 4.
“Come winter, I’m going to hibernate a bit. I’ve been lucky to spend time with my family on the bus but it’s going to be important to reconnect.”
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